Rugby league legend Ron Coote has told of his devastation after losing his home of 35 years in the Lake Conjola bushfires on the NSW south coast.
The 75-year-old, who played 257 first grade games for Souths and Easts and represented his country in 23 Tests, said he battled the blaze with hoses but couldn’t stop his house from going up.
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"The fires started up on the highway which is 2.5km from where we live. It happened so quickly, all of a sudden on top of us," he told the Today Show on Thursday.
"We were defending there, we had fire hoses, pumps and had to use the water out of the swimming pool, then it got up into the eaves of those house… then she went up.”
Coote said he lost track of his wife and daughter during the ordeal and later found out they’d run down to the lake and jumped in.
His daughter’s house next door was also lost, along with 50 other homes in Lake Conjola.
"They both went up… we lost them, we lost everything. It's a bit daunting of a morning when you get up and you have no clothes to put on,” he said.
"That's life, you get on with it... we're not going to let this interfere with our great life we have down here."
Coote determined to rebuild
Despite the devastation, Coote said he and his family will rebuild.
More than 110 blazes were burning across NSW on Thursday morning, with more than 50 burning out of control.
Seven people have died since Monday evening, taking the number of deaths this season in NSW to at least 15.
Coote won four premierships at South Sydney and back-to-back titles at Easts in 1974 and 1975.
He captained Australia three times and was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame in 2005.